In South Texas, rural communities often face challenges accessing and benefiting from digital communication services such as cellular, television, and internet. This creates a digital divide, which hinders the progress and development of the region. VTX1, a conglomerate of telecommunication companies, is committed to delivering various services to combat this issue and ensure everyone can access high-quality digital communication services.
“VTX1 has always lived up to the original mission crafted by its founders back in 1952. We have made serving the unserved our core mission. It enabled a better way of life by means of being able to communicate with the outside world and conduct business, reach loved ones and more,” said Sebastian Ivanisky, Chief Technology Officer at VTX1.
VTX1 was formed in 1952 as Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc. to provide telephone service to rural areas of South Texas. Over the years, it has merged with other companies and now services over 35,000 square miles from the Rio Grande Valley to the outskirts of Austin. It provides more modern services such as television and internet services.
Living at the deficient end of the digital divide can have serious consequences. It means being disconnected from your community and the rest of the world, including digital information, services, and the digital economy. Connecting digitally is crucial when information cannot be shared in person. This can happen due to long distances that make communication difficult or even in local, short-distance contexts when communication is hindered.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many services and communication channels shifted online. While this was not a problem for those living in cities with easy access to the internet, it posed a significant challenge for those living in rural areas. People in rural areas were disconnected from the world and each other at a much more extensive level. Some children could not receive online schooling, and some professionals could not work online due to inadequate broadband services. During this time, VTX1 took rapid, provisional measures to ensure that people in rural areas had access to the internet during this time.
However, VTX1’s vision is and has been the rigid establishment of high-quality internet access in areas where such a service has been undeveloped.
“We work tirelessly to find the resources needed to sustain our efforts. Building networks is only half of the equation. Cooperatives like VTCI are supported through subsidies and other funding options. We are continuously engaged in policy matters to ensure the continuity of our efforts,” said Ivanisky.
VTX1 often uses fiber optics to provide high-speed internet in rural areas, resulting in faster speeds and fewer interruptions. This helps bridge the gap between rural and urban areas regarding internet speeds and provides a higher quality service.
“Some of our customers have enjoyed the benefits of high-speed fiber optic internet since as early as 2006. Even today, there are areas in big cities that can’t make that claim,” said Ivanisky.
One of VTX1’s greatest advantages is its number of incorporated companies, which gives them an extensive area of coverage and gives customers access to various services far beyond the internet and telephone.
The future looks bright for rural regions in Texas with the passing of Proposition 8 in 2023. This proposition allocates $1.5 billion in funds towards developing broadband infrastructure, of which providers can apply for and receive funds. VTX1 is seeking this funding to expand internet access in rural areas. We are committed to working cooperatively with other providers to ensure that all rural areas can access high-speed internet.